Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flags for Peace reminder...

I was standing in our kitchen the other morning as the sun rose into a blue sky and looked out at my hand-made paper, origami peace-crane peace flags from last year.  They looked wonderful with the light behind them so I tried to photograph them.  Of course the sun went into hiding and popped out intermittently, but still it was good to be reminded.

International Day of Peace is on 21 September each year.  For the past couple of years a bunch of folk around the world have made flags for peace and flown them on that day.

The blog that follows our adventures and reflections can be found here.  It is hosted by Mary Jane Dodd, whose beautiful blog is here.

Barry and I reflected on how well these hand-made paper flags were going outside. They were hung in mid-late September last year, and here we are in late April and they are still there.  Seven months outside in the elements is a pretty good run for paper!  They hang at the front of our house, almost as a peaceful welcome to our home.

Spending time with them reminded me I need to get thinking about what sort of flags to make this year; and where to hang them.

Our back deck is full of flags; and the front deck has these ones…the tree at the top of the driveway will be a weather gram peace tree again; but what else to do I wonder?

It would be wonderful to have more folk join in and fly flags to share peace around the world come September - just contact MJ or Barry or I and we can get you organised into the blog. The more peace the better...

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Susan and I gave ourselves quite a long time to make these books, so it feels as if I have been hinting at this and that about the book for ages.  But here we are at last!

I started out thinking I would do a book of bird images or nest images and rambled around with a bunch of possibilities.  None felt quite right.  I thought I would try and do etchings of nests; or screenprints of birds, or maybe even draw eggs.

But in the end it just didn't feel right and so I returned to words.

I found some words that expressed how I feel about nests - the sense of protection, of nurture, of care.

I then selected key words from the poem to use in different ways.

The background pages are all a soft cream with gestural marks in white.  I chose the words, wrote them out, then exploded them…so the gestural marks are really words, but they can't be read. I like that the words are all the way throughout the book - and exploding letters is easier for me in a way than just making marks…odd I know.

This is a very blurry shot of me exploding some letters in ink as a sampler to work off.  To help you out the words are: thoughts; rest; wings.

I called it nurture because that is how I feel about nests…and safe places. That they nurture us. I wrapped it in soft, soft fabric - a gentle cocoon or swaddle. All about protection.

As Susan has mentioned, artists' books are notoriously hard to photograph, and this one in its whiteness and paleness is even harder than usual.  I hope you get a sense of it without actually getting brilliant shots of each page…

The words I chose to try and visually represent (without using the words themselves on the pages) from the poem were:

Thoughts - interconnected light lines.

Rest - gentle habu stitching, restful.

Wings - one of Susan's beautiful etchings used as embossing.

Hollow - a lino cut hollow embossed.

Silence. Soft paper, nothing.

Nest. Another of Susan's - embossing of lino with delicate graphite in the detail

Stillness - Lines of dots.

Hatch - Fine dappled paper.

Dreams - swirly dreams in soft paper.

The finished book is an accordion fold within a fixed cover, with detailed pages stitched into the valleys of the accordion fold.  It feels good in the hand as you hold it and gently turn the pages to reveal the images that represent the words.

I finished the book with the poem. A bit like Susan, I didn't want to reveal the whole story at the beginning, and then have folk go thru and go - oh that's this; and that's that; rather I wanted them to feel and experience the pages and what they meant to me as I tried to express that thought; and at the end have it all makes sense.

I hand-stamped the words into sheets of my handmade paper -love the texture.

The words:

Thoughts, rest your wings.
Here is a hollow of silence,
a nest of stillness.
in which to hatch your dreams.

by Joan Walsh Anglund.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“Books are the perfect entertainment; no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” 

 Stephen King

This is so true of me and my family.  A number of us own what we call 'book bags'. Those sort of library-bag equivalents that allow us to carry a book or two with us for those moments, those 'inevitable dead spots in life' when a book will come in handy.

Mine hang behind the bedroom door and I select one depending on size of book, where I'm going and what I'm wearing and does it match! Laugh. I know mum never goes for a drive in the car without packing the book bag - often stuffing it with more books than she can possibly read, but knowing she might dip into all of them at some point during the trip.

It gives me great comfort to have a book bag with me, knowing that whatever delay or quiet moments, I can reach in and pick up my book.  Barry and I were on duty at the Printmakers' exhibition on Monday afternoon - the quietest shift of all; everybody was pretty much on their way home by 1-4pm on Easter Monday, so we packed our book bag with books and I also took my iPad just in case.  I think in the slow moments we both managed to read a few pages; but it was just nice to have something to do, that we wanted to do, when there was down time.

So true as Stephen King says as well - no commercials, no batteries and when on a plane, no need to power down during take off and landing!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book meeting and anniversary!

Well, today is UNESCO World Book Day and as has become part of our tradition, Susan and I got together with our books to let them meet.

And my, what a marvellous moment it was to see the pair of these books sitting happily together, resolved and perfect for what they are, and who we are each are.

On World Book Day back in 2012, we met and decided to make a book together for the first time . From that random get-together a beautiful body of collaborative work has emerged, showing us both how far we can go; and what the nature of true collaboration can produce.

Last year we also met with our books, and so on our second anniversary of collaborating we met once more.

For whatever reason, and even at this point of the game Susan and I were still discussing and debating this today, we both really struggled with these books.  They were hard.  They did not want to venture forth fully formed and I know I just struggled and struggled.

But holding it in my hands and working my way through it quietly, my book is now my friend.

So here are our two books together.  Delightfully different yet still complementary.

Mine is wrapped in some very soft fabric…almost cocooned.

I love how Susan resolved her struggle with imagery - and the format of the book is wonderful. I love that the story can be told in so many ways…

 We thought that given it was an anniversary of sorts, we might also bring all of our books together - just to reflect on the journey; to remember moments and parts of the books that we may have forgotten. Each book represents a point in time for us as well - we remember what was happening when we made them and they are imbued with emotion and memories.

Here are our first books and our last books together - so soft!

And here they are all together, a gorgeous mix of this and that. So many lovely memories.

I look across them and know I would never have made mine without Susan's involvement. I would never have ventured places or pushed myself so hard to resolve something so that it was the best it could be, and I know I never take this time working together for granted.  It is special and whilst we both do our own things, together, we also do beautiful things.

The care, respect and gentle nudging and encouragement seems to bring out the best in us both, in a way, and for that I am grateful.

I'll take you through my book in detail next time...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Daily Doings...

I had the best fun over the weekend; ignoring all the "must-dos" and "should-dos" for a day, I learnt how to bind a book.

So many threads to pull together in this story - but it starts with my daily "To-Do" lists.

I use recycled paper from the printer, then print 4 to a page, cut them up and make up pads of them. I write on them each day and then I was recycling them. But back in March last year I decided to keep a year's worth in a stack and do something with them. I think my note to self at the time said "scanned and photographed, collaged".

The stack grew over time until I had this bundle. They sat on the kitchen bench, and the odd spill occurred over the course of the year I'd say.

Another thread. Back in his youth, as part of getting through his first degree, Barry worked in a bindery, where they bound books. So when I got to the end of the to-do year I asked if he might help me bind these single pages into book, and he very kindly spent time showing me how to do it.

I had so much fun. In just one day we went from a random pile of pages to a bound book - such happiness and glee!

I clamped and sawed and glued and pressed.

Barry got all posh on me and suggested a leather spine..

And by the end of the day, still having done heaps of things in between, I had bound my daily doings for the year!

 And the next day I wrote on the cover.

You can even open it and turn the pages like a real book…

I had simply hoped to somehow capture my daily doings into something - and along the way, I have learnt how to bind abook and now have a prototype to remind for when I want to do a proper one.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“Happiness is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent.” 

Virginia Woolf

I am sitting here a bit weary, a bit tired and and thinking about this quote. Happiness is so much in the ordinary things of my life, sitting quietly and reading book, working in the garden; baking and cooking in the kitchen, chatting to my friends; savouring a really good cup of coffee or a glass of wine; companionable silence with Barry; laughing together over silly things. So many precious daily moments are the basis of happiness for me.

I often wonder about the overall pursuit of happiness - I'm not sure it's realistic that we are always happy or that things are only worth it if you're happy.  I like to think about contentment more - do I feel content with life and what I'm doing? I don't have to feel happy about all the time, but I like to check that I am content and not full of discontent about something.

I think I could have been happy alongside Virginia - sitting silently, a candle flickering as the rose petal drops.  I could be happy there for sure.

A verdant green vegetable garden also makes me happy - and it's green this week to join in with Jennifer and Julie's search for Roy G. Biv - the rainbow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter exhibition

Easter seems to have come around quickly - even though it is later in the year than it often is. It feels a bit fast, because it doesn't seem all that long ago that Maleny Printmakers were having their November collectables exhibition, and here we are again with our Fine Art exhibition!

The exhibitions being held on the four days of the Eater weekend, from 10am - 4pm each day.  Once again we are transforming Sonja's studio into a gallery space, and the show will be at 37 Coral St, Maleny (behind Mukti).

I knew that the first few months of the year would see us away a fair bit and with other key commitments, so I had not really intended to enter any work. Then I said yes I would, and then later on realised that the piece I had in mind had recently been shown in an exhibition up here and therefore was ineligible. Eek.

Suddenly I had to do some printmaking!

The theme for the exhibition is 'Journeys' which leaves lots of room for interpretation. For some it will be reminders of trips and travels; for some it will reflect their personal or spiritual journeys. I think it will be an interesting and diverse range of works.

I gave some glimpses of where I was headed back in this post; and the works are now framed and ready to submit.

 Called "Weekend Getaway" the words are the names of towns along the Range here - and they are in the sequence of a Sunday drive or a weekend visit. As I say in my blurb:

"The hinterland is a wonderful place to visit for a weekend getaway; to drive amongst the lush green hills and valleys, stopping off at all the different towns and villages".

Perhaps they will be a reminder to somebody of their visit here over Easter; or perhaps some tourism folk might think they are a good idea!

We are looking forward to sharing our passion for printmaking again, and I for one am hoping that November doesn't come around quite as quickly...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slowly getting there...

It seems to be taking an inordinately long time to pull together this book, but I am edging closer to the end.

It is quite a charming wee thing and I am enjoying the look of it now as I finesse things a bit, fix things up and try to tie it all together.

Susan and I have continued to meet to talk our way through these books and to help each other out.  It has been a true collaboration of minds and support this time around.

The books are due to be completed by 23 April - World Book Day - and they will get together then.

It will be quite delightful to see where all this agony has gotten us, and to share the final results. I promise this will be the last tease so to speak…

My page inserts, all complete and ready to be stitched in place. Susan still has one of them to do her final bit on…so lovely to have her original work in my book!

The play of light on this page, the lovely soft paper...

Something recognisable at last!

An element of Susan's etching and embossing on one of the pages.

Feather-light and flimsy page detail.

Another shot of them waiting to be stitched…